Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Steven Posch

Steven Posch

Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.

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 Pope Francis apologizes to Indigenous delegates for Canada's residential  schools – Vancouver Island Free Daily

So: at a recent meeting with Indigenous Canadian leaders, the pope apologized for some of the unspeakable things that some representatives of the Church perpetrated on Indigenous children at residential schools.

Well, isn't that big of him?

Note what he did not apologize for: the spiritual genocide that the Church has, throughout the centuries, perpetrated upon the First Nations of America.

He didn't apologize for it, because he can't. The church that he heads owes its very existence to spiritual genocide. Like Islam, the world's other major imperialist religion, the existence of Christianity as a mass phenomenon has been historically premised on the spiritual genocide of Indigenous peoples.

In this, as in so many other things, pagans stand with the First Nations of the Americas. We must, because we've been there too.

Pope Apologizes to First Nations of Europe for Church's Spiritual Genocide.”

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Hubble Beholds a Big, Beautiful Blue Galaxy | NASA 

Is an electron one, or many?

Is an atom one, or many?

Is a cell one, or many?

Is a body one, or many?

Is a flock one, or many?

Is a coven one, or many?

Is a tribe one, or many?

Is a people one, or many?

Is a land one, or many?

Is a planet one, or many?

Is a solar system one, or many?

Is a galaxy one, or many?

Is what is, one or many?

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 River, Stream, Movement, Turbulent, Stormy, Flow, Turbulence, Commotion,  Water, Wave, Aquatic | PixCove

A Thought Experiment


I believe in the peoplehood of pagans.

Here's my contention: that, collectively, pagans constitute—in effect—a transnational and transethnic people.

I would contend, in fact, that pagans are, essentially, an emergent ethnic group.


So: a pagan and a non-pagan fall into a river. You can only save one. Which one do you save?

In reality, of course, moral decisions are rarely so clear-cut. But ask yourself: under these circumstances, which one would it be?

The pagan moral universe is one of graded responsibility. (Yes, there may be a few heroic souls out there who have managed to transcend such petty restrictions and truly love everyone equally. Well, good on them. I'm talking here about the rest of us poor unwashed unenlightened.) I have more responsibility to immediate family than to more distant relatives. I have more responsibility to distant kin than to non-kin. I have more responsibility to non-kin members of my tribe than to those not of my tribe. And so on, expanding outwards from self.

That said, would I save the pagan, or the non-pagan?

Usually, of course, a question of this sort implies some sort of moral weighting. I'd be more likely to save someone that I knew over someone that I didn't know, the one that I liked better, the one that I perceived as less able to help themselves.

(In the funniest set of pre-flight instructions that I've ever heard, the way-gay air steward mugged: "If you're traveling with a child, please see to your own needs first. If you're traveling with two children, please see to the needs of the most promising child first.")

All that being equal, though, Posch, which one would you save?

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It's a byword in New Crete, Robert Graves' Goddess-worshiping utopia of the future: “Nothing without the hand of love.” Love is the culture's central value.

In New Crete, love's opposite is not hatred, but unlove: self-interest disregarding of others. “How utterly unloving!” say the New Cretans of such actions, shuddering.

In 1961, W. Holman Keith—protegé of Gleb Botkin, founder of the Long Island Church of Aphrodite—observed in his ground-breaking Divinity as the Eternal Feminine that any Goddess-based religion must necessarily adopt love as its central principle.

Doreen Valiente would seem to have felt the same when, in the late 1950s, she drafted her well-loved prose “Charge of the Goddess”, in which the Lady of Witches tells her people: “My law is love unto all beings.”

Doubtless this intriguing dictum restates the Thelemic principle “Love is the law, love under will”, but let us ask: What does the Lady's Law of Love mean? What are its implications for the actions of Her People?

Does she mean that we should love viruses and flatworms? Does she mean that we should all become vegan? Does she mean that we should love the deer as we shoot it? If the latter, what does it mean to love what you kill?

In a sense, the statement is a commonsense observation about all living things that reproduce sexually.

More broadly, though, I think that she's talking about a general approach to life. Taking love as your central principle and prime motivator will change the way that you think about what you do. Next time you make a decision, ask yourself: What is the loving thing to do here?

The Lady's Law of Love governs not only our behavior toward others of our own kind, but those not of our kind as well: other humans that we perceive as not being like us, as well as our larger family of kin, animals, plants, and ultimately the entire “non-living” world.

Lest you think the concept of a Love Culture redolent of hippie-dom or naiveté, let me cite another proverb of New Crete:

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think it was in an issue of Natural History magazine that I read an article about St. Hubertus. It mentioned that traditionally

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 1500+ Sky Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash


How do you join yourself to a people?

In the dream, I am leaving home, going to fight in Ukraine. In dedication, I carve a piece of flesh from my right calf, about the length and volume of a finger.

I vow to Tue, old Sky Father, lord of battles, to make this people my people, and this fight my fight.

I take the all-seeing Sun, guarantor of agreements, to be my witness.



In waking life, of course, I do nothing of the sort. Instead, from the safety of another continent—from the middle of the continent, no less—I sit and write, torn in spirit, shaken by a war in which I have no part.



In the Old North, war was a religious affair.

Before a campaign, a departing army would first gather for the hosting-sacrifice. Sprinkled—literally, blessed—with the blood of the sacrificial victim, they would bind themselves with a hold-oath to fight as one, laying aside all other feuds and grievances for the duration.



I once lost a friend to victimhood.

He had embraced victimhood as an identity. There were no oppressed in whom he could not see himself. “I wonder which oppressed group Tom has decided to identify with this week,” a mutual friend once commented archly.

In the end, weary of being cast as eternal oppressor to his eternal victim, I walked away from the friendship.

In sorrow, I walked away.



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 Castlenalacht, Stone Row / Alignment - Megalithic Mysteries

 A Visit to Pagan Island


A row of standing stones runs along the spine of the long, narrow river island.

In the dream, I'm in Wales, visiting the old Selene farm in Carmarthenshire, which during the 70s and early 80s was home to the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland. It was from these good folks that I learned ritual and how to think in Pagan. It was in this soil that my pagan roots first grew deep.

The river in the dream, though, is clearly the Mississippi, along whose banks I now live. In the logic of dreams, the meaning is clear enough.

When we finally manage to get out to the island—did we swim? boat? teleport?—we discover something very interesting indeed. The long row of standing stones that line the island's ridge are not raised stones. These stones are a part of the island itself, living rock rearing to the sky, grown here like the trees themselves.

In the dream, I think of the immemorial sanctity of river islands. I remember the self-manifest lingams of India, most sacred of all lingams. These are self-manifest standing stones, most powerful of all.

We link hands and begin to dance. Down along the full row we dance, weaving in and out of the standing stones as we go.

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 Golden Calf Syndrome | The Layman's Bible


 The Making of a Pagan


The little tow-headed boy is sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, watching TV. Now playing—maybe because it's Holy Week—is C. B. de Mille's epic kitsch-fest The Ten Commandments.

The film is unrelentingly grim. Oh the slavery! Oh the plagues! Oh the suffering!

Suddenly, the mood changes. The Children of Israel are, for once, happy. They're dancing, they're getting drunk, they're grabbing each others' asses.

They're worshiping the Golden Calf!

That looks like fun! thinks the little boy. That's what I want to do!


With its implications of juvenescence, “calf” is really something of a mistranslation. In Hebrew, an égel (עגל) is actually a yearling bull, newly come to maturity. The Golden Bull is a youthful god, shining with juicy adolescence.


“What the heck is that?” asks my friend.

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